A GREAT many friends in the game will be dismayed to hear that former Scotland A stalwart Danny Herrington is struggling against cancer. He is in the Strathcarron hospice where, according to friends, he is still well enough to insist that they turn up with the statutory six-pack of Guinness.
In his playing days, Danny was never considered an athlete in the accepted sense of the word, but he was a rugby player and, perhaps more importantly, he was a prop. The breed are renowned for their preference for action over words, for hard work over cutting corners, and for dealing out and receiving the roughest of justice with nary a hint of complaint. Danny was the epitome of this breed.
He started his career in his home town of Tillicoultry, where he formed a front-row partnership at Hillfoots with John Manson and ‘Budgie’ Cairney that was affectionately dubbed the ‘Tillicoultry Troglodytes’. The trio moved to Dundee HSFP and, with Kevin MacKenzie or Martin Scott joining them for the Caledonian Reds, a famous front row was formed.
Ian Rankin, who coached him at the Reds, referred to Danny as Mr Indestructible, which would be wholly apt were it not for the sad circumstances in which the player finds himself. Rankin recalled one match early in European Cup history when Danny had the world’s most-capped player, Jason Leonard, "squealing" in the scrums.
But if Danny was difficult to deal with on the pitch, Morag was an equally frightening proposition on the sidelines, where it took a brave man to criticise her husband’s efforts within hearing distance of a proud and protective wife.
He once had the distinction of playing against the All Blacks twice in the space of four days, but his most famous hour was undoubtedly when he claimed a pushover try against the mighty Springboks at Aberdeen’s Rubislaw in 1994. If you listen to his version of events, the touchdown entailed Danny dragging his own team-mates over the line while simultaneously out-muscling the best the Springboks could field.
For all his unorthodox style, Danny had little truck with training schedules or lifting weights, for he had learned through many years in the game such an impeccable technique that former director of rugby Jim Telfer asked him to pass on this priceless information to the current generation of young props.
Exactly how many years Danny played the game is a mystery because he apparently removed a year from his age almost as often as he added one, a habit that quickly earned him the title Peter Pan.
He was still turning out for Kirkcaldy as recently as three years ago, and an extensive investigation has established his age at 44. Knowing his relish for a fight, Danny will doubtless be looking forward to celebrating his 43rd birthday!